Zechariah 4:7
Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 4:7-9. Who, rather, What art thou, O great mountain — O great obstacle, apparently as insurmountable and immoveable as a high mountain. Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain — Thou shalt sink into nothing. The obstacle shall give way, the difficulty vanish, the opposition cease. Removing mountains, or levelling them into plains, are proverbial expressions, denoting the overcoming the greatest difficulties, and removing all obstacles. So that the angel here encourages Zerubbabel to go on with his undertaking of rebuilding the temple, and restoring the Jewish state, assuring him that all the endeavours of the Samaritans, and of others of the neighbouring people to hinder him, would be fruitless, and that nothing should be able to withstand him. As the words of the text proceed immediately from Jehovah, Blayney thinks they appear more dignified, if considered as expressing the same sense by an interrogation, closed by a brief answer, thus: “What art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, a level plain.” He shall bring forth the headstone — Namely, of the temple. He shall lay the top or headstone upon the walls of the temple: agreeably to what is said in the next verse, that he should finish the temple, as well as lay the foundation of it; with shoutings, crying Grace, grace unto it — Which action of Zerubbabel shall be accompanied with the joyful acclamations of the people, as also with their earnest prayers, wishing all prosperity, and a long continuance of it, to the temple, and those that should worship God therein. As if he had said, As the free favour of God began and finished the building, may the same favour ever dwell in it and replenish it. But although this be the literal sense of the passage, it has undoubtedly also a mystical meaning. As Christ is figuratively intended by the stone laid before Joshua, (Joshua 3:9,) so here it is figuratively signified that God would bring forth, or bring into the world, the Messiah, as the top, or headstone, the last or finishing ornament of the church, God’s spiritual house, Ephesians 2:21. To this sense the Chaldee paraphrase expounds the words: “His Messiah shall come forth, who was named from all eternity, and shall obtain the empire of all the kingdoms of the earth.” And St. Jerome tells us upon the place, that the ancient Jews explained it so. His hands also shall finish — He shall have the happiness of seeing the great work, which he hath begun, finished and brought to perfection. And thou shalt know, &c. — These may either be the words of the prophet to Zerubbabel, signifying, that when the prediction now uttered was accomplished, it would evidently appear to have been delivered by a divine commission, in which sense similar words must be understood, Zechariah 2:9. Or they may be the words of the angel to the prophet, signifying that when the promise made in the preceding clause was fulfilled, then he would know that God had sent this divine instructer to him, and that the vision was really from God.

4:1-7 The prophet's spirit was willing to attend, but the flesh was weak. We should beg of God that, whenever he speaks to us, he would awaken us, and we should then stir up ourselves. The church is a golden candlestick, or lamp-bearer, set up for enlightening this dark world, and holding forth the light of Divine revelation. Two olive trees were seen, one on each side the candlestick, from which oil flowed into the bowl without ceasing. God brings to pass his gracious purposes concerning his church, without any art or labour of man; sometimes he makes use of his instruments, yet he needs them not. This represented the abundance of Divine grace, for the enlightening and making holy the ministers and members of the church, and which cannot be procured or prevented by any human power. The vision assures us that the good work of building the temple, should be brought to a happy end. The difficulty is represented as a great mountain. But all difficulties shall vanish, and all the objections be got over. Faith will remove mountains, and make them plains. Christ is our Zerubbabel; mountains of difficulty were in the way of his undertaking, but nothing is too hard for him. What comes from the grace of God, may, in faith, be committed to the grace of God, for he will not forsake the work of his own hands.Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt be a plain - The words have the character of a sacred proverb; "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased" Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14. Isaiah prophesies the victories of the Gospel in the same imagery, "Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain" Isaiah 40:4. And in the New Testament Paul says, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. As it is the character of antichrist, that he "opposeth and exalteth himself above everything that is called God" 2 Thessalonians 2:4, so of Satan himself it had been said in the former vision, that he stood at the right hand of Joshua "to to resist him" Joshua 3:1.

So then the mountain symbolizes every resisting power; Satan and all his instruments, who, each in his turn, shall oppose himself anti be brought low. In the first instance, it was Sanballat and his companions, who opposed the rebuilding of the temple, on account of the "exclusiveness" of Zerubbabel and Joshua , because they would not make the temple the abode of a mixed worship of him whom they call your God and of their own idolatries. In all and each of his instruments, the persecuting emperors or the heretics, it was the one adversary. Cyril: "The words seem all but to rebuke the great mountain, that is, Satan, who riseth up and leadeth against Christ the power of his own stubbornness, who was figuratively spoken of before Joshua 3:1. For that as far as it was allowed and in him lay, he warred fiercely against the Saviour, no one would doubt, who considered how he approached Him when fasting in the wilderness, and seeing Him saving all below, willed to make Him his own worshiper, showing Him "all the kingdoms of the world," saying that all should be His, if He "would fall down and worship him" Matthew 4:8-9. Then out of the very choir of the holy Apostles he snatched the traitor disciple, persuading him to became the instrument of the Jewish perverseness. He asks him, "Who art thou?" disparaging him and making him of no account, great as the mountain was and hard to withstand, and in the way of every one who would bring about such things for Christ, of whom, as we said, Zerubbabel was a type."

And he shall bring forth the headstone - The foundation of the temple had long been laid. Humanly it still hung in the balance whether they would be permitted to complete it Ezra 5:Zechariah foretells absolutely that they would. Two images appear to be used in Holy Scripture, both of which meet in Christ: the one, in which the stone spoken of is the foundation-stone; the other, in which it is the head cornerstone binding the two walls together, which it connects. Both were cornerstones; the one at the base, the other at the summit. In Isaiah the whole emphasis is on the foundation; "Behold Me who have laid in Zion a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, well-founded" Isaiah 28:16. In the Psalm, the building hall been commenced; those who were building had disregarded and despised the stone, but "it became the head of the corner," crowning and binding the work in one .

Both images together express, how Christ is the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last; the Foundation of the spiritual building, the Church, and its summit and completion; the unseen Foundation which was laid deep in Calvary, and the Summit to which it grows and which holds it firm together. Whence Peter unites the two prophecies, and blends with them that other of Isaiah, that Christ would "be a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of people but chosen of God and precious, ye also are built up a spiritual house - Whence also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: unto you which believe He is precious, but unto them which be diobedient, the same stone which the builders refused is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, to them which stumble at the word being disobedient" 1 Peter 2:4-7.

A Jew paraphrases this of the Messiah; Jonathan: "And He shall reveal His Messiah, whose name was spoken from the beginning, and he shall rule over all nations."

With shoutings, grace, grace unto it - that is, all favor from God unto it, redoubled favors, grace upon grace. The completion of the building was but the commencement of the dispensation under it. It was the beginning not the end. They pray then for the continued and manifold grace of God, that He would carry on the work, which He had begun. Perseverance, by the grace of God, crowns the life of the Christian; our Lord's abiding presence in grace with His Church unto the end of the world, is the witness that He who founded her upholds her in being.

7. All mountain-like obstacles (Isa 40:4; 49:11) in Zerubbabel's way shall be removed, so that the crowning top-stone shall be put on, and the completion of the work be acknowledged as wholly of "grace." Antitypically, the antichristian last foe of Israel, the obstacle preventing her establishment in Palestine, about to be crushed before Messiah, is probably meant (Jer 51:25; Da 2:34, 44; Mt 21:44).

bring forth the head-stone—Primarily, bring it forth from the place where it was chiselled and give it to the workmen to put on the top of the building. It was customary for chief magistrates to lay the foundation, and also the crowning top-stone (compare Ezr 3:10). Antitypically, the reference is to the time when the full number of the spiritual Church shall be completed, and also when "all Israel shall be saved" (compare Ro 11:26; Heb 11:40; 12:22, 23; Re 7:4-9).

Grace, grace—The repetition expresses, Grace from first to last (Isa 26:3, Margin). Thus the Jews are urged to pray perseveringly and earnestly that the same grace which completed it may always preserve it. "Shoutings" of acclamation accompanied the foundation of the literal temple (Ezr 3:11, 13). So shoutings of "Hosanna" greeted the Saviour in entering Jerusalem (Mt 21:9), when about to complete the purchase of salvation by His death: His Body being the second temple, or place of God's inhabitation (Joh 2:20, 21). So when the full number of the saints and of Israel is complete, and God shall say, "It is done," then again shall "a great voice of much people in heaven" attribute all to the "grace" of God, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God" (Re 19:1, 6). Ps 118:22 regards Him as "the head-stone of the corner," that is, the foundation-stone. Compare the angels acclamations at His birth, Lu 2:14. Here it is the top-stone. Messiah is not only the "Author," but also the Finisher (Heb 12:2). "Grace" is ascribed "unto it," that is, the stone, Messiah. Hence the benediction begins, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2Co 13:14).

Who art thou, O great mountain? the angel having resolved the question about building the temple, either himself doth deride all the power of opposers, or the prophet doth triumph over it, Who art thou? Sanballat and confederates, or Satan, or Babylon, or all put together, what are you all, compared with the power of God, the Lord of hosts, who by his Spirit will finish this work?

Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: thou standest in the way of my servant, and thinkest his weakness and poverty cannot remove thee; but if he cannot surmount thy height, I will bring it down and make thee as a plain, and my servant shall as easily go on with my work as a traveller goeth over a way plained before him.

And he, Zerubbabel, as the servant of Christ, shall bring forth the head-stone; shall, as is usual, assist at the laying of the last finishing stone, as well as he saw and assisted when the first foundation stone was laid.

Thereof; of the second temple.

With shoutings; with loud acclamations, the signs of great joy and satisfaction in the thing done.

Crying, Grace, grace unto it; praying, and wishing all prosperity, and a long continuance of it, to the temple, and those that are to worship God in it; as grace and favour of God began, and finished, so may the same grace ever dwell in it, and replenish it.

Who art thou, O great mountain?.... This is said in reference to those who opposed the building of the temple, as Sanballat, and others; or the Persian monarchy, and Babylon the capital of it; a mountain being a symbol of a kingdom, or capital city; so Babylon is called, Jeremiah 51:25 hence the Targum paraphrases the words thus,

"how art thou accounted a foolish kingdom before Zerubbabel!''

and may denote the opposition made to Christ, and to the building of his church, both by Rome Pagan and Rome Papal; Rome is signified by a burning mountain cast into the sea, Revelation 8:8 and may include all the enemies of the church and people of God, as sin, Satan, and the world; who, though they may look like high and great mountains, and make much opposition, and throw many difficulties in their way, yet in the issue will he of no avail; See Gill on Isaiah 49:11. Some Jewish writers (p), by "the great mountain", understand the Messiah, but very wrongly; for he is designed by Zerubbabel in the next clause; but not by the "headstone", as the Targum interprets it:

before Zerubbabel thou shall become a plain; as all opposition and difficulties were surmounted by Zerubbabel in building the temple; so all vanish and disappear before Christ, the antitype of Zerubbabel, in the building up of his church, through the conversion of sinners, and in the protection and preservation of it:

and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof; that is, he, Zerubbabel, shall finish the building of the temple, as in Zechariah 4:9 the headstone being the last and uppermost stone in the building, which is last laid, and completes the whole; and in the spiritual sense designs, not Christ the headstone of the corner, for it is he that is Zerubbabel's antitype, who brings it in; but the last man that will be converted, when the number of God's elect will be completed in regeneration: they are all in Christ's hands, and under his care; before conversion they are secretly his, his hidden ones; in conversion he brings them forth, and makes them to appear what they are; and, when the last of this number is born again, the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, will be wholly built, and nothing wanting in it; and the work of grace will have the last hand put to it, and be perfect in all. Christ is indeed sometimes called the headstone of the corner, and the chief cornerstone, Psalm 118:22 and he is the principal one in the spiritual building the church; he is the foundation stone, on which the whole is laid; and he is the cornerstone, that joins, knits, and keeps all together; he is both the stability, safety, and ornament of the building; Christ is the first, but not the last stone laid, which this must be: rather the perfection of grace is designed, or the bringing of the work of God to perfection; which may be signified hereby, in allusion to an edifice, which, when the last or top stone is laid, is then completed; and, if taken in this sense, must be understood, not of justifying grace, which is complete at once; Christ's righteousness being a perfect justifying righteousness, and every believer complete in it; but of sanctifying grace, which, though, as to the principle of it, is all wrought together, yet is not at once perfected; it is gradually brought to perfection; there is a perfection of parts, but not of degrees; no man is perfectly holy in himself, only as he is in Christ; but holiness in the saint will be perfected, for without it no man can see the Lord; and this is done at death in every individual believer; and then follows a state of sinless perfection; and the last measure of grace given, which perfects the work, may be called the headstone, the crowning, finishing part: and this wilt be brought in by Christ, the author and finisher of faith; who is a rock, and his work is perfect; he is able to do it; and who so fit, as he who is full of grace? and who so proper, as the master builder, and Head of the church? this grace, which perfects all, is in Christ; he brings it out from himself, in whom it has pleased the Father all fulness should dwell: but it is best of all to interpret the headstone of the last of the elect of God, and redeemed of the Lamb, that will be called by grace; who has this name, not from any superior excellency in him to any of the other lively stones, laid in the spiritual building; but because he is the last that is put there; and which shows, that not one of those God has chosen, and Christ has redeemed, shall be lost; it is the will of God, and it is the care of Christ, that none should perish, but all should come to repentance, to the glory of his rich grace; or otherwise the building would not be complete, nor the church the fulness of him that filleth all in all. The Targum indeed paraphrases the words of Christ,

"and he shall reveal his Christ, whose name is said from eternity, and he shall rule over all kingdoms:''

and mention being made of a capital and principal stone, in this vision of the candlestick, may put one in mind of the stone the Jews (q) speak of, which was before the candlestick in the temple, which had three steps, and on which the priest stood, and trimmed the lamps: and this will be attended

with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it; as the people of the Jews shouted, when the first stone was laid in the foundation of the temple, Ezra 3:11 so it is here intimated that their acclamations would be very great when the last stone would be brought in, and the building finished; which they would ascribe to the grace, favour, and good will of God to them: so likewise, as the work of conversion is wholly owing to the grace of God, an abundance of which is displayed in it; when it is finished in the hearts of all the Lord's people, and the last man designed to be called by it is converted, and so the spiritual building of the church finished; this will be attended with the shouts of angels, who rejoice at the conversion of every sinner, and much more when all the elect are gathered in; and the acclamations of all the saints, for the marriage of the Lamb, will now be come, and the church be ready, as a bride prepared for her husband; see Revelation 19:6. The repetition of the phrase, "grace, grace", denotes that the work of conversion in all the saints, from the first to the last, is only owing to the grace of God, and not to any merit, motive, and condition in man; that they are saved and called, not according to their works, but according to the purpose and grace of God, his abundant mercy, free favour, and great love; and that this grace is exceeding abundant, which is displayed in the conversion of a single individual; and how large and copious must it be, which is given forth to them all. It is also expressive of the vehemency of those that use the phrase; and shows that they have a deep sense of it on their hearts; and are warmed, and glow with it; and cannot sufficiently express their admiration of it; and strive to magnify it to the uttermost of their power, being sensible of their obligations to God for it, and what gratitude is due to him on account of it: and this will be the cry of every saint in glory, throughout the endless ages of eternity; nor will the least sound be heard that is jarring, or contrary to it; all will be of one mind, and in one tone, and strive to outdo each other in exalting the free grace of God in the highest strains, with the greatest fervency of soul, and with the loudest acclamations, and those continually repeated.

(p) Tanchuma in Yalkut Simeoni in loc. (q) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 92. 1. & Tamid, fol. 30. 2. Maimon. Beth Habechira, c. 3. sect. 11.

Who art thou, O {e} great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and {f} he shall bring forth its headstone with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace to it.

(e) He compares the power of the adversaries to a great mountain, who thought the Jews were nothing with regard to them, and would have hindered Zerubbabel, who represented Christ, whom the enemies daily labour to stop in the building of his spiritual Temple, but all in vain.

(f) Though the enemies think to stop this building, yet Zerubbabel will lay the highest stone of it, and bring it to perfection, so that all the godly will rejoice, and pray to God that he would continue his grace and favour toward the Temple.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. great mountain] Comp. Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 49:11; Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:21; 1 Corinthians 13:2. So had the mountain-like obstacles of the power of their captors (Ezra 1:1), and the unwillingness of the people, first to return (Zechariah 4:5), and then to persevere in the work (Haggai 1:14), already “become a plain,” by the “Spirit of the Lord,” stirring up the spirit of man.

Grace, grace unto it] i.e. all favour rest upon it! “Faveat ei Deus, faveant homines.” Maurer.

Verse 7. - Who art thou, O great mountain? The "mountain" is a figurative expression to denote the various difficulties that stood in Zerubbabel's way and impeded the carrying out of his great design. Before Zerubbabel. The Vulgate affixes these words to the former part of the clause, but the accent is in favour of the Authorized Version. Thou Shall become a plain; literally, into a plain! A command. All obstacles shall be removed (comp. Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 49:11; Matthew 17:20; Luke 3:4, 5). Septuagint, τοῦ κατορθῶσαι (intrans.), "that thou shouldst prosper;" "ut corrigas" (Jerome). He shall bring forth the headstone thereof. "He" is evidently Zerubbabel. He shall commence and put the finishing stroke to the work of rebuilding the temple. Many commentators take this stone to be the one that completes the building, "the topstone." But it may well be questioned whether a building like the temple could have any such stone. An arch or a pyramid may have a crowning stone, but no other edifice; nor is there any proof that such a topstone was known or its erection celebrated. It may be a mere metaphor for the completion of the work. It is better, however, to take it as the cornerstone, to which we know great importance was attached (comp. Job 38:6; Psalm 118:22, etc.). This stone, on which the building rests, Zerubbabel will bring forth from the workshop; as the next verses say, his hands have laid the foundation. That action, already past, is represented as future, the regular commencement of the work under Zerubbabel's direction being intimated, and its happy conclusion promised. Septuagint, Καὶ ἐξοίσω τὸν λίθον τῆς κληρονομίας, "And I will bring forth the stone of the inheritance" - the meaning of which is obscure, though Jerome explains it by considering it an allusion to Christ. With shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it! All the by standers, as the stone is placed, shout in acclamation, "God's favour rest upon it!" (Ezra 3:10). The LXX. seems to have mistaken the sense, rendering, Ἰσότητα χάριτος χάριτα αὐτῆς, "The grace of it the equality of grace" (John 1:16); and to have led St. Jerome astray, who translates, "Et exsaequabit gratiam gratiae ejus," and comments thus: "We all have received of his fulness, and grace for grace, that is, the grace of the gospel for the grace of the Law, in order theft the Israelites and the heathen who believe may receive equal grace and a like blessing." The Targum recognizes here a Messianic prophecy: "He will reveal the Messiah whose Name is spoken of from all eternity, and he shall rule over all the kingdoms." Zechariah 4:7The interpretation of this vision must therefore be founded upon the meaning of the golden candlestick in the symbolism of the tabernacle, and be in harmony with it. The prophet receives, first of all, the following explanation, in reply to his question on this point: Zechariah 4:4. "And I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? Zechariah 4:5. And the angel that talked with me answered and said to me, Knowest thou not what these are? And I said, No, my lord. Zechariah 4:6. Then he answered and spake to me thus: This is the word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, and not by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts. Zechariah 4:7. Who art thou, O great mountain before Zerubbabel? Into a plain! And He will bring out the top-stone amidst shoutings, Grace, grace unto it!" The question addressed by the prophet to the mediating angel, "What are these?" (mâh 'ēlleh, as in Zechariah 2:2) does not refer to the two olive trees only (Umbreit, Kliefoth), but to everything described in Zechariah 4:2 and Zechariah 4:3. We are not warranted in assuming that the prophet, like every other Israelite, knew what the candlestick with its seven lamps signified; and even if Zechariah had been perfectly acquainted with the meaning of the golden candlestick in the holy place, the candlestick seen by him had other things beside the two olive trees which were not to be found in the candlestick of the temple, viz., the gullâh and the pipes for the lamps, which might easily make the meaning of the visionary candlestick a doubtful thing. And the counter-question of the angel, in which astonishment is expressed, is not at variance with this. For that simply presupposes that the object of these additions is so clear, that their meaning might be discovered from the meaning of the candlestick itself. The angel then gives him the answer in Zechariah 4:6 : "This (the vision as a symbolical prophecy) is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might," etc. That is to say, through this vision Zerubbabel is informed that it - namely, the work which Zerubbabel has taken in hand or has to carry out - will not be effected by human strength, but by the Spirit of God. The work itself is not mentioned by the angel, but is referred to for the first time in Zechariah 4:7 in the words, "He will bring out the top-stone," and then still more clearly described in the word of Jehovah in Zechariah 4:9 : "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house (the temple), and his hands will finish it." It by no means follows from this that the candlestick, with its seven lamps, represented Zerubbabel's temple (Grotius, Hofmann); for whilst it is impossible that the candlestick, as one article of furniture in the temple, should be a figurative representation of the whole temple, what could the two olive trees, which supplied the candlestick with oil, signify with such an interpretation? Still less can the seven lamps represent the seven eyes of God (Zechariah 4:10), according to which the candlestick would be a symbol of God or of the Spirit (Hitzig, Maurer, Schegg). The significance of the candlestick in the holy place centred, as I have shown in my biblische Archologie (i. p. 107), in its seven lamps, which were lighted every evening, and burned through the night. The burning lamps were a symbol of the church or of the nation of God, which causes the light of its spirit, or of its knowledge of God, to shine before the Lord, and lets it stream out into the night of a world estranged from God. As the disciples of Christ were called, as lights of the world (Matthew 5:14), to let their lamps burn and shine, or, as candlesticks in the world (Luke 12:35; Philippians 2:15), to shine with their light before men (Matthew 5:16), so as the church of the Old Testament also. The correctness of this explanation of the meaning of the candlestick is placed beyond all doubt by Revelation 1:20, where the seven λυχνίαι, which John saw before the throne of God, are explained as being the seven ἐκκλησίαι, which represent the new people of God, viz., the Christian church. The candlestick itself merely comes into consideration here as the stand which carried the lamps, in order that they might shine, and as such was the divinely appointed form for the realization of the purpose of the shining lamps. In this respect it might be taken as a symbol of the kingdom of God on its formal side, i.e., of the divinely appointed organism for the perpetuation and life of the church. But the lamps received their power to burn from the oil, with which they had to be filled before they could possibly burn.

Oil, regarded according to its capacity to invigorate the body and increase the energy of the vital spirits, is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the Spirit of God, not in its transcendent essence, but so far as it works in the world, and is indwelling in the church; and not merely the anointing oil, as Kliefoth supposes, but also the lamp oil, since the Israelites had no other oil than olive oil even for burning, and this was used for anointing also.

(Note: The distinction between lamp oil and anointing oil, upon which Kliefoth founds his interpretation of the visionary candlestick, and which he tries to uphold from the language itself, by the assertion that the anointing oil is always called shemen, whereas the lamp oil is called yitshâr, is shown to be untenable by the simple fact that, in the minute description of the preparation of the lamp oil for the sacred candlestick, and the repeated allusion to this oil in the Pentateuch, the term yitshâr is never used, but always shemen, although the word yitshâr is by no means foreign to the Pentateuch, but occurs in Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 12:17, and other passages. According to Exodus 27:20, the lamp oil for the candlestick was to be prepared from shemen zayith zâkh kâthı̄th, pure, beaten olive oil (so also according to Leviticus 24:2); and according to Exodus 30:24, shemen zayith, olive oil, was to be used for anointing oil. Accordingly the lamp oil for the candlestick is called shemen lammâ'ōr in Exodus 25:6; Exodus 35:8, Exodus 35:28, and shemen hammâ'ōr in Exodus 35:14; Exodus 39:37, and Numbers 4:16; and the anointing oil is called shemen hammishchâh in Exodus 29:7; Exodus 31:11; Exodus 35:15; Exodus 39:38; Exodus 40:9; Leviticus 8:20, Leviticus 8:10, and other passages; and shemen miwshchath-qōdesh in Exodus 30:25. Apart from Zechariah 4:14 of the chapter before us, yitshâr is never used for the lamp oil as such, but simply in the enumeration of the productions of the land, or of the tithes and first-fruits, when it occurs in connection with tı̄rōsh, must or new wine (Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 18:4; Deuteronomy 28:51; 2 Chronicles 31:5; 2 Chronicles 32:28; Nehemiah 5:11; Nehemiah 10:39; Nehemiah 13:12; Hosea 2:9, Hosea 2:22; Joel 1:10; Joel 2:19, Joel 2:24; Jeremiah 31:12; Haggai 1:11), but never in connection with yayin (wine), with which shemen is connected (1 Chronicles 12:40; 2 Chronicles 2:14; 2 Chronicles 11:11; Proverbs 21:17; Jeremiah 40:10). It is evident from this that yitshâr, the shining, bears the same relation to shemen, fatness, as tı̄rōsh, must, to yayin, wine, - namely, that yitshâr is applied to oil as the juice of the olive, i.e., as the produce of the land, from its shining colour, whilst shemen is the name given to it when its strength and use are considered. Hengstenberg's opinion, that yitshâr is the rhetorical or poetical name for oil, has no real foundation in the circumstance that yitshâr only occurs once in the first four books of the Pentateuch (Numbers 18:12) and shemen occurs very frequently; whereas in Deuteronomy yitshâr is used more frequently than shemen, viz., the former six times, and the latter four.)

And in the case of the candlestick, the oil comes into consideration as a symbol of the Spirit of God. There is no force in Kliefoth's objection - namely, that inasmuch as the oil of the candlestick was to be presented by the people, it could not represent the Holy Spirit with its power and grace, as coming from God to man, but must rather represent something human, which being given up to God, is cleansed by God through the fire of His word and Spirit; and being quickened thereby, is made into a shining light. For, apart from the fact that the assumption upon which this argument is founded - namely, that in the oil of the candlestick the Spirit of God was symbolized by the altar fire with which it was lighted - is destitute of all scriptural support, since it is not mentioned anywhere that the lamps of the candlestick were lighted with fire taken from the altar of burnt-offering, but it is left quite indefinite where the light or fire for kindling the lamps was to be taken from; apart, I say, from this, such an argument proves too much (nimium, ergo nihil), because the anointing oil did not come directly from God, but was also presented by the people. Supposing, therefore, that this circumstance was opposed to the symbolical meaning of the lamp oil, it would also be impossible that the anointing oil should be a symbol of the Holy Ghost, since not only the oil, but the spices also, which were used in preparing the anointing oil, were given by the people (Exodus 25:6). We might indeed say, with Kliefoth, that "the oil, as the fatness of the fruit of the olive tree, is the last pure result of the whole of the vital process of the olive tree, and therefore the quintessence of its nature; and that man also grows, and flourishes, and bears fruit like an olive tree; and therefore the fruit of his life's fruit, the produce of his personality and of the unfolding of his life, may be compared to oil." But it must also be added (and this Kliefoth has overlooked), that the olive tree could not grow, flourish, and bear fruit, unless God first of all implanted or communicated the power to grow and bear fruit, and then gave it rain and sunshine and the suitable soil for a prosperous growth. And so man also requires, for the production of spiritual fruits of life, not only the kindling of this fruit by the fire of the word and Spirit of God, but also the continued nourishment and invigoration of this fruit through God's word and Spirit, just as the lighting and burning of the lamps are not effected simply by the kindling of the flame, but it is also requisite that the oil should possess the power to burn and shine. In this double respect the candlestick, with its burning and shining lamps, was a symbol of the church of God, which lets the fruit of its life, which is not only kindled but also nourished by the Holy Spirit, shine before God. And the additions made to the visionary candlestick indicate generally, that the church of the Lord will be supplied with the conditions and requirements necessary to enable it to burn and shine perpetually, i.e., that the daughter of Zion will never fail to have the Spirit of God, to make its candlestick bright. (See at Zechariah 4:14.)

There is no difficulty whatever in reconciling the answer of the angel in Zechariah 4:6 with the meaning of the candlestick, as thus unfolded according to its leading features, without having to resort to what looks like a subterfuge, viz., the idea that Zechariah 4:6 does not contain an exposition, but passes on to something new, or without there being any necessity to account, as Koehler does, for the introduction of the candlestick, which he has quite correctly explained (though he weakens the explanation by saying that it applies primarily to Zerubbabel), namely, by assuming that "it was intended, on the one hand, to remind him what the calling of Israel was; and, on the other hand, to admonish him that Israel could never reach this calling by the increase of its might and the exaltation of its strength, but solely by suffering itself to be filled with the Spirit of Jehovah." For the candlestick does not set forth the object after which Israel is to strive, but symbolizes the church of God, as it will shine in the splendour of the light received through the Spirit of God. It therefore symbolizes the future glory of the people of God. Israel will not acquire this through human power and might, but through the Spirit of the Lord, in whose power Zerubbabel will accomplish the work he has begun. Zechariah 4:7 does not contain a new promise for Zerubbabel, that if he lays to heart the calling of Israel, and acts accordingly, i.e., if he resists the temptation to bring Israel into a free and independent position by strengthening its external power, the difficulties which have lain in the way of the completion of the building of the temple will clear away of themselves by the command of Jehovah (Koehler). For there is not the slightest intimation of any such temptation as that supposed to have presented itself to Zerubbabel, either in the vision itself or in the historical and prophetical writings of that time. Moreover, Zechariah 4:7 has not at all the form of a promise, founded upon the laying to heart of what has been previously mentioned. The contents of the verse are not set forth as anything new either by נאם יהוה (saith Jehovah), or by any other introductory formula. It can only be a further explanation of the word of Jehovah, which is still covered by the words "saith Jehovah of hosts" at the close of Zechariah 4:6. The contents of the verse, when properly understood, clearly lead to this. The great mountain before Zerubbabel is to become a plain, not by human power, but by the Spirit of Jehovah. The meaning is given in the second hemistich: He (Zerubbabel) will bring out the top-stone. והוציא (is not a simple preterite, "he has brought out the foundation-stone" (viz., at the laying of the foundation of the temple), as Hengstenberg supposes, but a future, "he will bring out," as is evident from the Vav consec., through which הוציא is attached to the preceding command as a consequence to which it leads. Moreover, אבן הראשׁה does not mean the foundation-stone, which is called אבן פּנּה, lit., corner-stone (Job 38:6; Isaiah 28:16; Jeremiah 51:26), or ראשׁ פּנּה, the head-stone of the corner (Psalm 118:22), but the stone of the top, i.e., the finishing or gable stone (הראשׁה with raphe as a feminine form of ראשׁ, and in apposition to האבן). הוציא, to bring out, namely out of the workshop in which it had been cut, to set it in its proper place in the wall. That these words refer to the finishing of the building of the temple which Zerubbabel had begun, is placed beyond all doubt by Zechariah 4:9.

The great mountain, therefore, is apparently "a figure denoting the colossal difficulties, which rose up mountain high at the continuation and completion of the building of the temple." Koehler adopts this explanation in common with "the majority of commentators." But, notwithstanding this appearance, we must adhere to the view adopted by the Chald., Jerome, Theod. Mops., Theodoret, Kimchi, Luther, and others, that the great mountain is a symbol of the power of the world, or the imperial power, and see no difficulty in the "unwarrantable consequence" spoken of by Koehler, viz., that in that case the plain must be a symbol of the kingdom of God (see, on the contrary, Isaiah 40:4). For it is evident from what follows, that the passage refers to something greater than this, namely to the finishing of the building of the temple that has already begun, or to express it briefly and clearly, that the building of the temple of stone and wood is simply regarded as a type of the building of the kingdom of God, as Zechariah 4:9 clearly shows. There was a great mountain standing in the way of this building of Zerubbabel's - namely the power of the world, or the imperial power - and this God would level to a plain. Just as, in the previous vision, Joshua is introduced as the representative of the high-priesthood, so here Zerubbabel, the prince of Judah, springing from the family of David, comes into consideration not as an individual, but according to his official rank as the representative of the government of Israel, which is now so deeply humbled by the imperial power. But the government of Israel has no reality or existence, except in the government of Jehovah. The family of David will rise up into a new royal power and glory in the Tsemach, whom Jehovah will bring forth as His servant (Zechariah 3:8). This servant of Jehovah will fill the house of God, which Zerubbabel has built, with glory. In order that this may be done, Zerubbabel must build the temple, because the temple is the house in which Jehovah dwells in the midst of His people. On account of this importance of the temple in relation to Israel, the opponents of Judah sought to throw obstacles in the way of its being built; and these obstacles were a sign and prelude of the opposition which the imperial power of the world, standing before Zerubbabel as a great mountain, will offer to the kingdom of God. This mountain is to become a plain. What Zerubbabel the governor of Judah has begun, he will bring to completion; and as he will finish the building of the earthly temple, so will the true Zerubbabel, the Messiah, Tsemach, the servant of Jehovah, build the spiritual temple, and make Israel into a candlestick, which is supplied with oil by two olive trees, so that its lamps may shine brightly in the world. In this sense the angel's reply gives an explanation of the meaning of the visionary candlestick. Just as, according to the economy of the Old Testament, the golden candlestick stood in the holy place of the temple before the face of Jehovah, and could only shine there, so does the congregation, which is symbolized by the candlestick, need a house of God, that it may be able to cause its light to shine. This house is the kingdom of God symbolized by the temple, which was to be built by Zerubbabel, not by human might and power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. In this building the words "He will bring forth the top-stone" find their complete and final fulfilment. The finishing of this building will take place תּשׁאות חן חן להּ, i.e., amidst loud cries of the people, "Grace, grace unto it." תּשׁאות is an accusative of more precise definition, or of the attendant circumstances (cf. Ewald, 204, a), and signifies noise, tumult, from שׁוא equals שׁאה, a loud cry (Job 39:7; Isaiah 22:2). The suffix לּהּ refers, so far as the form is concerned, to האבן הראשׁה, but actually to habbayith, the temple which is finished with the gable-stone. To this stone (so the words mean) may God direct His favour or grace, that the temple may stand for ever, and never be destroyed again.

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